Hernia Surgery Q&A with Dr. Muhammad Feteiha
Hernias affect a wide swath of the population. Most hernias go undiagnosed as many are asymptomatic. About 1,000,000 hernia surgeries are performed in the US every year – most are inguinal or groin hernias. In this edition of Advanced Surgical Associates’ Q&A our very own Dr. Muhammad Feteiha answers questions about hernias and hernia repair.
How do I know if I have a hernia?
The symptoms of a typical hernia include a visible or palpable bulge in the abdomen and pain or burning sensation in the same area. However, many patients have hernias that go unnoticed and are completely asymptomatic. Because of the low chance of complications, typically, patients are not screened for hernias unless they have symptoms.
Why did I get a hernia?
The causes of a hernia vary depending on location of the hernia and a patient’s individual circumstance. Typically, added abdominal stress such as violent coughing and sneezing, lifting heavy weights and more can cause or worsen a hernia. Pregnancy and weight gain can also add abdominal strain. Some patients have a genetic disposition for hernias. Hernias also occur more often in older patients and those who smoke. Learn more about the causes of hernias.
Can hernias be prevented?
Staying healthy by exercising and eating well may help by minimizing abdominal pressure caused by obesity. Minimizing strain on the abdomen by performing lifting and workout activities with proper posture can also help. However, those predisposed to a hernia may not be able to avoid it in their lifetime.
What is hernia incarceration or strangulation?
A hernia in and of itself does not cause any symptoms – It is simply a hole in the fascia of the abdomen. It is the contents that protrude through the hernia that cause the symptoms. When these contents, such as fat tissue or parts of the intestine get stuck in this hole, meaning they cannot be reduced back into the abdomen, this is known as incarceration and is an urgent matter.
Even more concerning, is when blood flow to these organs is reduced or blocked entirely. This is known as strangulation and requires immediate surgery.
Fortunately, these issues are rare. However, younger patients with smaller hernias have a higher chance of strangulation. Those with femoral hernias have a significant risk of strangulation.
What are the options to repair a hernia?
The only viable option for permanently repairing your hernia is surgery. Other forms of treatment are typically ineffective and some can be dangerous.
Do I need to have my hernia repaired right away?
Hernias are progressive, meaning that they will get larger over time if you postpone surgery. While good candidates for surgery are encouraged to undergo the procedure sooner rather than later, you do have the option to wait, as long as you understand the risks of doing so. Patients with asymptomatic hernias, typically found incidentally, and some older patients that are not good candidates for surgery may opt to not to repair the hernia.
Is hernia surgery safe?
The risks of hernia surgery are in line with any surgical procedure. Many of the risks of surgery are mitigated using laparoscopic or minimally invasive techniques. You should also seek out an experienced hernia surgeon, such as those at Advanced Surgical Associates.
I’ve heard about the risk of chronic pain, can you explain?
Chronic pain, especially after inguinal or groin hernia repairs, is a potential complication after surgery. However, advances in mesh technology, laparoscopic technique and surgeon experience have made this complication rare. To address this issue, we have created a comprehensive page on chronic pain after hernia surgery.
How long is the procedure?
A laparoscopic hernia repair typically requires 30 to 45 minutes of operative time with an hour or two of preparation at the surgical facility beforehand and a couple hours of recovery afterwards.
How long will I be in the surgery center/hospital?
Uneventful laparoscopic hernia repairs are typically performed on outpatient basis, which means that you will leave the facility the same day as your surgery
When can I go back to work after surgery?
A typical laparoscopic hernia repair will allow patients with non-strenuous jobs to return to work within 3 to 5 days. Those with particularly strenuous jobs may need to avoid heavy lifting for up to six weeks. However, they may return to less strenuous work activities sooner.
What about exercising after surgery?
Immediately after surgery, we encourage our hernia patients to begin walking as this has many benefits, including reducing the risk of infection, minimizing the chance of blood clots, and speeding up recovery in general.
Within one to two weeks, patient should be able to resume low impact activities that do not require abdominal strain including jogging, cardio and more.
After two weeks, patient should be able to submerge their incisions and swim. Core muscle activity should be avoided for 3 to 4 weeks after surgery. Heavy lifting should be avoided for six weeks or more after surgery.
Are there any dietary restrictions after surgery?
During your immediate recovery, you may experience reduced appetite due to the anesthesia as well as the narcotic pain medication you may be taking after the procedure. However, there are no foods that you need to specifically avoid.
When is follow-up?
Most patients will follow up with their surgeon at our office around the two-week mark.
What if I have a problem or question?
In cases of emergency, patients should always call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room. For non-emergency questions, you can call our office at any time. You will receive a post-operative packet that explains potential complications and how to recognize them.